It is home to two of the country’s finest football teams and has more musical and cultural heritage than you can shake a foraged mushroom at – so why does Manchester still not have any Michelin-starred restaurants?
That was the question on the lips of gourmands across the UK today, as the celebrated French guide published its latest collection of the country’s finest dining establishments – and delivered an almighty snub to the city’s best chefs.
Simon Rogan’s restaurant The French and Aiden Byrne’s Manchester House had both been hotly tipped to pick up the coveted accolade this year, but neither did enough to impress the guide’s team of secret reviewers, meaning that the city has not held a Michelin star for 40 years.
New stars were awarded to 14 other restaurants across the UK, ranging from country gastro pubs such as The Crown at Whitebrook in Monmouthshire to hipster hangout The Clove Club in Shoreditch, East London. Both branches of celebrity hotspot Nobu in London lost their stars.
Scotland received two new stars, one going to the restaurant at the Isle of Eriska Hotel in Argyll and the other to the Three Chimneys and attached House Over By on the Isle of Skye. Wales did similarly well, with Ynyshir Hall in Powys earning a star as well as The Crown at Whitebrook. Cornwall’s latest star went to Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac, run by Rick Stein’s protégé Nathan Outlaw.
Manchester’s omission was greeted with disbelief by the city’s foodies. Mark Garner, a restaurant critic who founded the Manchester Confidential website, said he was “very surprised” to see Rogan and Byrne’s establishments go unrewarded.
“Obviously, us being Mancunians, we’ll always stamp our feet and cry,” he said. “But both of the restaurants are cooking at the level. I understand what Michelin are looking for better than most, and I thought that The French was probably 100 per cent and Manchester House 80 per cent there.”
He added that The French’s exclusion was particularly baffling as Rogan’s other new restaurant, Fera at Claridge’s in London, did receive a star this year. “I’ve eaten at both restaurants on several occasions and there’s hardly any light between the two of them,” he said.
The fact that both chefs recently featured in the BBC television series Restaurant Wars may also have counted against them, he suggested. “I don’t think Michelin would have liked that.”
Byrne admitted it was “disappointing” that Manchester had again not been awarded a Michelin star, but added: “Both Manchester House and The French offer two different fine dining experiences that has been welcomed by the people of Manchester and visitors to the city.”
The Michelin guide’s editor Rebecca Burr defended the decision to exclude Manchester for another year and suggested the BBC programme may have unduly ramped up the hype. “I think it’s very unfair that because there’s been a TV programme on a place, everybody assumes what’s going to happen. We’re not influenced by that – we would treat Manchester the same as we would every other city,” she said.
The UK's new stars
- The Star Inn (Harome, North Yorkshire)
- The Cross (Kenilworth, Warwickshire)
- Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen (Port Isaac, Cornwall)
- The Treby Arms (Sparkwell, Devon)
- Isle of Eriska (Eriska, Argyll and Bute)
- Three Chimneys / House Over By (Skye, Highlands)
- Ynyshir Hall (Machynlleth, Powys)
- The Crown at Whitebrook (Whitebrook, Monmouthshire)
- Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs (Bloomsbury, London)
- City Social (City of London, London)
- The Clove Club (Shoreditch, London)
- Fera at Claridge’s (Mayfair, London)
- Gymkhana (Mayfair, London)
- Barrafina (Soho, London)